ATB: Brandon Rush’s Triumphant Return

Posted by rtmsf on November 26th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.25.07

Game of the Day. #4 Kansas 76, Arizona 72. The four-days-early game between Kansas and Arizona in the inaugural Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series was everything a college hoops fan could have hoped for in such a meeting between two powerhouse programs. It had stars making plays (Budinger and Rush), tightness throughout (no team had a greater than 4-pt lead in the second half), a tantalizingly close halfcourt buzzer-beater, and an overtime just to fuel the early season intensity. Our thoughts: 1) Brandon Rush (17/8) looks great for a guy who blew out his ACL a mere six months ago. He hit his first shot off the bench, took care of the ball, made both of his threes, and even threw down a couple of dunks in the OT to seal things. 2) Arizona showed a toughness we haven’t seen in a while. After getting down ten early (22-12), we expected the Wildcats to pack it in and take their 20+ pt beating while the Phog was rocking – but that didn’t happen. Instead, Arizona clawed back to tie the game at halftime, and led the game deep into the second half. We’re not sure that happens last year. 3) Chase Budinger’s (27/6) potential is mesmerizing – he always seems to be playing better than he actually is playing. For example, he hit six threes tonight, but only shot 10-23 from the field. 4) Arizona may be playing tougher, but they’re still playing dumb with the ball. 25 turnovers (14 by their starting guards) at Allen FH won’t cut it – given that stat, it’s amazing they had a chance to win the game in regulation. 5) Kansas is just scary when it comes to the talent they can put on the court. No surprise there, but this is a 30+ win team that could win the national title if things break right for them.

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Other Games We Saw. NC State 69, #25 Villanova 68. The finals of the Old Spice Classic championship was another close game with a particularly insane ending. After battling toe-to-toe for most of the game (the biggest lead by either team was 7 pts), it appeared that Villanova was going to take the prize when Dante Cunningham tipped in a missed shot with 2.2 seconds remaining to give Nova a 1-pt lead. NC State then passed the ball length-of-the-court to Gavin Grant, who stepped behind the three-point line and was fouled in a ticky-tack call on the shot attempt by Cunningham with 0.4 seconds on the clock. Grant made two of three to put NCSU up by one, so it was then Villanova’s turn to throw the ball to the other end in hopes of a miracle. And they damn near got it – knowing they only had time for a tip, Villanova made two tips at the basket (the second attempt was very close and got off before the red light illuminated, according to our Tivo slo-mo) and neither dropped. Still, it was an exciting ending to a competitive game. Courtney Fells led the way for NCSU with 21, but it was a balanced attack from the Wolfpack (Grant & Hickson – 15 each; McCauley – 10) that led to the win. Villanova was paced by freshman Corey Fisher’s 21 pts, but special notoriety should go to Casiem Drummond, who with 17 rebounds singlehandedly kept numerous possessions alive for the Wildcats.

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USC 70, #18 S. Illinois 45. This game completely shocked us – not just the result but the margin of victory (SIU’s worst loss in seven years). The usually disciplined Salukis couldn’t get anything to drop (eFG% = 38%), while the Men of Troy, led by Davon Jefferson (20/5), simply could not miss (eFG% = 65%). We’d watched two or three USC games already this year, and each time they looked uninterested, umotivated and overall underwhelming. Not tonight. Perhaps it had something to do with OJ Mayo’s benching (for what reason, Tim Floyd?), but the takeaway is that USC outclassed a reliably good team in every possible way tonight. Randal Falker is the only player who showed up for SIU, producing 17/12 for his efforts.

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Other Ranked Teams.

  • #8 Washington St. 71, Air Force 62. Wazzu guards combine for 46/15/13 assts.
  • #10 Duke 78, Eastern Kentucky 43. Where did Taylor King (27 pts) come from?
  • #19 Kansas St. 82, Rider 69. Jason Thompson of Rider (24/7/3 assts/4 blks) outplayed Michael Beastley (13/10) in this one.

Other Scores of Note.

  • UCF 70, Penn St. 59. Another horrid loss for the Big 10, thanks to our friends in State College.
  • Missouri St. 73, Winthrop 69. Hard to believe that Winthrop would blow a 16-pt halftime lead at home (24 game winning streak), but they did.
  • George Mason 69, South Carolina 68. Mason picks up more major conference pelts as Will Thomas dominated SC inside (22/11).
  • Miami (OH) 67, Mississippi St. 60. Does MSU have any other players besides Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes?

On Tap Tonight (all times EST). Big 10/ACC gets started in Iowa City, but not much else on the slate for Monday.

  • Wake Forest (-2) v. Iowa (ESPN2) 7pm – hard to believe Wake could be favored on the road just about anywhere.
  • Davidson (-3.5) v. Appalachian St. 7pm. this is a key SoCon game – why so early?
  • Connecticut (NL) v. Florida A&M (ESPN FC) 7pm - already tired of UConn.
  • Washington (-22.5) v. Long Beach State 10:30pm – which UW will show up?
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ATB: Only 3 More Ls for Gavin Grant

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.18.07

Story of the Day. New Orleans 65, NC State 63. When a bank-three from 25 feet wins a game (note: we looked all over for video evidence of this three but couldn’t find it online yet – if anyone has it, link us…) for a mid-major over a ranked team, that’s gotta be the story of the day. We’ve been vocal in our critique of whether NC State should be a ranked team this year, but we take nothing away from UNO tonight as they defeated their first ranked team in fourteen years. The Privateers scored eight straight points to take a 62-61 lead with 15 seconds remaining; after NC State’s Gavin Grant made a layup with eight seconds remaining to give the Wolfpack the lead again, a broken play ensued which ultimately led to UNO’s TJ Worley throwing up the prayer that was answered. Despite NC State converting at a higher rate (eFG% of 50% v. 38%), the Privateers took advantage of 14 NCSU turnovers and poor foul shooting (10-19) to stay in the game. Bo McCalebb, one of the best one-bid conference players in the nation, had a poor shooting night (5-19), but he still managed to hit 20 pts. NC State’s JJ Hickson (another stud frosh) went for a dub-dub (22/13) in a losing effort. The pollsters in the MSM and the blogworld all think NCSU is going to finish in the top three in the ACC this year – maybe they should start listening to us! (oh, and memo to Gavin Grant, you only get three more…)

Other Games Today. Villanova 70, Bucknell 64. We had our eyes on this one along the bottom line this afternoon, and for a while, we thought Bucknell was going to get its first win at Nova since WW2. The Bison were simply on fire from three, hitting 15 of 31 shots, which means that only 19 of their points came from elsewhere on the court. Despite leading by eight at halftime and for nearly 75% of the game, Villanova took the lead for good with 3:25 remaining on a Scottie Reynolds three. Bucknell should be a good team again this year – Villanova, we’re still unsure about. #17 Arkansas 70, VCU 60. We watched this game and we couldn’t be more disappointed in VCU so far this season. We ranked them as the top mid-major to watch this season, and they’re just not playing with the same zeal we saw from them (and Eric Maynor in particular) last season. Arkansas struggled with VCU’s pressure (17 TOs, but nowhere near the 32 v. Providence the night before), but VCU could never get a run going to really threaten the balanced Hawgs. We like John Pelphrey and his athletes, but Arkansas will be limited by its sloppiness with the ball and lack of an inside game this season.

Tough Day for the ACC. Last night we talked up the ACC for having lost only two non-conference games thus far – today the ACC lost three more. Winthrop 79, Georgia Tech 73. This was one of our upset alerts last night, and it went as predicted. Georgia Tech went ice-cold in the second half (35%) after being hot in the first (58%), and the steady Tigers took advantage to give Tech its second loss to a low major conference in the first two weeks of the season (SoCon and Big South). Winthrop will meet Baylor (who defeated Notre Dame 68-64) in the finals of the Paradise Jam tomorrow. South Florida 68, Florida St. 67. Florida St. is doing its part to qualify as the crappiest team in the ACC by losing for the second consecutive night to a questionable opponent. Jason Rich takes home our award for worst game of the night with his 2 pt performance on 1-12 shooting. USF stud Kentrell Gransberry put up 21/8. Miami (FL) 64, Providence 58. Ok, so it wasn’t all bad for the ACC tonight. In an ugly game (both teams had ppp’s under 1.0) for the title of the PR Shootout, Miami persevered and outlasted the Friars thanks to James Dews, who led the Hurricanes with 17 pts. We have trouble believing that Miami is legit this year, but this is a nice win for their resume come March.

Ranked Teams.

#2 UNC 107, Iona 72. Psycho-T with 27/9 as UNC destroyed Iona. Should 21 TOs worry Roy?
#7 Louisville 84, Jackson St. 53.
We’re starting to wonder if this is Pitino’s best team at UL.

#10 Indiana 100, Longwood 49.
E-Giddy relaxes for only 21 tonight as IU rolls.

#14 Texas 100, Ark-Monticello 52.
Ark-Monticello had 11 pts at halftime
.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Maui gets under way along with the finals of the Paradise Jam.

  • Marquette (NL) v. Chaminade (ESPN2) 2:30pm – our first look at the Marquette guards.
  • LSU (-1.5) v. Oklahoma St. (ESPN2) 5pm - two teams that might be in the College BB Invtl. in spring 08.
  • Georgia Tech (NL) v. Notre Dame 6pm – the ‘supposed-to-be’ finals of the Paradise Jam.
  • UCLA (-10) v. Maryland (ESPN2) 7pm – more Maui – have a bad feeling for the Terps here.
  • Alabama (NL) v. Belmont (CSS) 7pm – Belmont with another shot at distinguishing itself.
  • Baylor (NL) v. Winthrop (FCSP) 8:30pm – how cool would it be if Winthrop wins this tourney?
  • Duke (-22) v. Princeton (ESPN2) 9pm – this is not Pete Carril’s Princeton.
  • Michigan St. (-4) v. Missouri (ESPNU) 9:30pm - another good Maui matchup.
  • Illinois (-2.5) v. Arizona St. (ESPN2) 11:30pm – how will Sendek’s guys look in Y2?
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08.30.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2007

What’s going on around the hoops world this week?

  • “Hoops” Weiss reports that 2007 A10 rookie of the year Robert Mitchell (16ppg; 5rpg) from Duquesne is transferring to Seton Hall. 
  • More injuries – Louisville’s Edgar Sosa is out four weeks with a sprained ankle, and Arkansas’ Sonny Weems is out the same amount of time with a broken hand (Weems has to miss the Hawgs’ trip to Cancun – rotten timing for him).
  • The Wooden Classic matchups are set, with San Diego St. taking on St. Mary’s in the undercard and Davidson vs. UCLA in the headliner game on Dec. 8.  We can’t wait to see Stephen Curry match up against Darren Collison. 
  • Apparently KU’s Brandon Rush is a fast healer.
  • NC State’s Gavin Grant has high expectations for his squad this season (memo to GG: you’ll have four losses by Jan. 12).  Find all 12 ACC teams’ scheduling highlights here
  • Ever the shameless promoter, OJ Mayo is floating the idea of sticking around USC for two seasons
  • OJ’s former HS buddy Bill Walker is ready for his first full season in Manhattan (Kansas). 
  • Speaking of USC, we always wondered how that big lead against UNC evaporated so quickly in last year’s sweet 16.  Oh, right, Tim Floyd
  • Sticking with the SoCal theme, here’s the next wannabe crossover conglomerate that Floyd can “recruit” to USC – 2009 #1 player Renardo Sidney (and his pops). 
  • Large things are expected in HoosierLand for Eric Gordon (best since Isiah??  Wow!).  Kelvin Sampson gives an interview on his team’s prospects prior to IU’s trip to the Bahamas here
  • Finally, the Big 10 Network is set to come on the air tonight at 8pm.  According to Mike DeCourcey,  ”among the intriguing games that will show up on the BTN will be Indiana at Iowa (January 2), Purdue at Michigan State (January 8), Wisconsin at Illinois (February 20) and three conference tournament games.”
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